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The Essential Fairy by Anna Kenna


When Ruth loses her tooth during the Covid-19 lockdown, she expects a visit from the Tooth Fairy. When the Tooth Fairy is a no-show, Ruth takes matters into her own hands and writes to the Prime Minister.


Our own Jacinda Ardern made worldwide headlines when, during the 2020 lockdown, she fronted a press conference and declared the Tooth Fairy an essential worker.


This light-hearted moment, in a pandemic, inspired author Anna Kenna to create this cute book.


Kenna says she wanted to capture the story as a piece of political history and also because the gesture demonstrated to children that their voices matter.

“While questions over the status of the Tooth Fairy may seem trivial with everything else that was going on, the PM took the matter seriously and spoke directly to children to clarify the situation. I think that was a pretty big deal for junior members of the team of five million and imagine many, watching the press briefing, grew a little taller that day.”


Kenna uses an upbeat rhyme to tell the story. It makes it fun to read, and surprisingly the rhyme isn't too stretched. Kenna maintains the importance of the story, not sacrificing it for the sake of a rhyme.


Illustrated by Tim Hunt, the book is distinctly Kiwi. Val, the Tooth Fairy, wears jandals, wild hair and sports tattoos. Ardern and Dr Bloomfield also make an appearance, and are instantly recognisable. Hunt set a great scene with his bright and bold illustrations - from a tūī to tooth sorting drawers, to the well-known flying koru, there is no doubt where this book is set.


The Essential Fairy is a topical read, exploring Covid-19 and the role of essential workers. It's a sweet story about a heart-warming moment in our collective history.


Reviewed by Rebekah Lyell

CopyPress, RRP $20